How to Turn Hardware Acceleration On and Off in Chrome

Chrome image

Google Chrome comes equipped with hardware acceleration, a feature which takes advantage of your computer’s GPU to speed up processes and free vital CPU time. However, sometimes driver incompatibilities can cause this feature to misbehave and disabling it could save you a few headaches.

What is Hardware Acceleration?

Hardware acceleration refers to when a program uses a computer’s hardware in support to perform some functions more efficiently than capable in the software. The hardware was designed to perform some functions faster than software running on the CPU alone.

In Chrome, hardware acceleration utilizes your computer’s graphics processing unit (GPU) to tackle graphics-intensive tasks, like playing videos, games, or anything that requires faster mathematical calculations. Passing off specific tasks gives your CPU a chance to work tirelessly on everything else, while the GPU handles processes that it was designed to run.

While this does sound great in most cases, sometimes hardware acceleration can cause Chrome to lag, freeze, or crash—it could even cause your laptop’s battery to drain a lot faster. As everyone’s computer is slightly different, the issue could lie in the GPU or driver associated with it. If you suspect hardware acceleration is the culprit, the best thing to do is to disable it and see if that fixes the problem.

How to Turn Hardware Acceleration On or Off

By default, hardware acceleration is enabled on Chrome, so let’s look at disabling it first.

Fire up Chrome, click the menu icon, and then click on “Settings.” Alternatively, you can type chrome://settings/ into the Omnibox to go directly there.

Click the menu button, then click Settings

In the Settings tab, scroll down to the bottom and then click “Advanced.”

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Nearly all 2020 presidential candidates aren’t using a basic email security feature


Three years after Russian hackers targeted and breached the email accounts of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, nearly all of the upcoming 2020 presidential candidates are still lagging in email security.

New data out by Agari confirms just one presidential hopeful — Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren — uses domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance policy — or DMARC . This email security feature sits on top of two existing security protocols, Sender Policy Framework (SKF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), which cryptographically verifies a sender’s email, and can mark emails as spam or reject them altogether if an email can’t be properly validates.

Agari, which has a commercial stake in the email security space, said the remaining 11 candidates it checked — including Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and presidential incumbent Donald Trump — do not use DMARC on their campaign domains.

The company warned that the candidates’ risk their campaigns being impersonated in spam campaigns and phishing attacks.

“DMARC is more important than ever because if it had been implemented with the correct policy on the domain used to spearphish John Podesta, then he would have never received the targeted email attack from Russian operatives,” said Agari’s Armen Najarian.

On the bright side, the wider Fortune 500 has seen a slight rise in DMARC adoption since the start of the year. Although most of the companies use DMARC, Agari said only 16 percent of the 500 world’s richest companies reject or quarantine unvalidated email — up from two years ago when just eight percent of the Fortune 500 were using DMARC.

In recent years, the U.S. government has spearheaded an effort to get DMARC rolled out across federal domains following pressure from Congress. Sen. Ron Wyden once called the rollout of DMARC “a no-brainer that increases cybersecurity without sacrificing liberty.”

Following the deadline set by Homeland Security last October, more than 80 percent of the government was using the security feature.

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The UK gets its first checkout-free grocery store

dims?crop=5472%2C3648%2C0%2C0&quality=85The days of spending your precious lunchbreak standing in line for a sandwich are increasingly numbered, as supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has launched the UK’s first ever till-free grocery store. The busy store in London’s Holborn Circus has been giv…

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Creative Commons launches its search engine out of beta, with over 300M images indexed

Nonprofit organization Creative Commons is today publicly launching its search engine after more than two years of beta testing. The new service is designed to offer an easy way to search the commons’ archive of free content available in the public domain, which is available to use under Creative Commons licenses. At launch, this includes more than 300 million images indexed from multiple collections, the organization says.

The service engine itself has also been updated with a major redesign and faster, more relevant search.

While the larger photo search engines, including Google and Flickr, have for a long time offered tools that let you filter for CC-licensed images, the Creative Commons website also sees a good bit of traffic itself. The organization in February 2017 said it was seeing nearly 60,000 users search its site per month, which is why it wanted to create an improved search experience.

“There is no ‘front door’ to the commons, and the tools people need to curate, share, and remix works aren’t yet available,” said Ryan Merkley, Creative Commons  CEO, when announcing the plans for the new CC search engine. “We want to make the commons more usable, and this is our next step in that direction,” he explained.

When the beta version of the search engine launched, there were some 9.5 million images available, including those from Flickr, 500px, Rijksmuseum, the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which served as its initial sources.

Today, CC Search has more than 300 million images pulled from 19 collections, including also the Cleveland Museum of Art, Behance, DeviantArt and even a set of CC0 3D designs from Thingiverse, among others. The organization says the image catalog will continue to grow, with prioritization given to significant collections like Europeana and Wikimedia Commons.

With today’s launch, the engine itself has also had an update. It now features a cleaner home page, improvements to its navigation and filters, design alignment with, streamlined attribution options and clearer channels for providing the organization with feedback. Under the hood, the engine has seen improvements to things like loading times and search-phrase relevance, and added analytics to help the team understand how it’s being used, the organization said.

In addition, the engine is now directly linked to the Creative Commons homepage, where it replaces the old search portal. (The latter remains online, however, at

This quarter, Creative Commons plans to add advanced filters to the homepage, the ability to browse collections without entering search terms and improvements to accessibility and the user experience on mobile devices. Some of this work will be done by Google Summer of Code students starting next month, it notes.

Longer-term, Creative Commons plans to grow the engine to index more than just photos. Later this year, it plans to begin indexing other CC-licensed works, like open textbooks and audio. Eventually, it wants this new portal to provide access to all 1.4 billion works in the commons — but that could take time, given that its work relies on a community of volunteer developers who work alongside the engineering team at Creative Commons.

On that front, the organization is open to community contribution and makes all its code — including the code behind CC Search — open source (e.g. CC SearchCC Catalog APICC Catalog). It also runs the #cc-usability channel on CC Slack where you can keep up with the new releases.

The public launch of CC Search follows other recent, good news for a sizable Creative Commons collection. In March, Flickr announced that all the Creative Commons images hosted on its site would remain protected — including those uploaded in the past, and any added in the future.

There had been some concern over the future of Flickr’s CC repository following the company’s move to a new business model which put an end to Flickr’s free terabyte of storage in favor of a subscription-based service. Had it decided to delete the CC-licensed photos it hosted, millions of photos would have been lost. Now those photos will continue to be available, and discoverable, through the new CC Search.

The full 2019 CC Search roadmap is available here.

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After account hacks, Twitch streamers take security into their own hands


Twitch has an account hacking problem.

After the breach of popular browser game Town of Salem in January, some 7.8 million stolen passwords quickly became the weakest link not only for the game but gamers’ other accounts. The passwords were stored using a long-deprecated scrambling algorithm, making them easily cracked.

It didn’t take long for security researcher and gamer Matthew Jakubowski to see the aftermath.

In the weeks following, the main subreddit for Amazon-owned game streaming site Twitch — of which Jakubowski is a moderator — was flooded with complaints about account hijacks. One after the other, users said their accounts had been hacked. Many of the hijacked accounts had used their Town of Salem password for their Twitch account.

Jakubowski blamed the attacks on automated account takeovers — bots that cycle through password lists stolen from breached sites, including Town of Salem.

“Twitch knows it’s a problem — but this has been going on for months and there’s no end in sight,” Jakubowski told TechCrunch.

Credential stuffing is a security problem that requires participation from both tech companies and their users. Hackers take lists of usernames and passwords from other breached sites and brute-force their way into other accounts. Customers of DoorDash and Chipotle have in recent months complained of account breaches, but have denied their systems have been hacked, offered little help to their users or shown any effort to bolster their security, and instead washed their hands of any responsibility.

Jakubowski, working with fellow security researcher Johnny Xmas, said Twitch no longer accepting email addresses to log in and incentivizing users to set up two-factor authentication would all but eliminate the problem.

The Russia connection

In new research out Tuesday, Jakubowski and Xmas said Russian hackers are a likely culprit.

The researchers found attackers would run massive lists of stolen credentials against Twitch’s login systems using widely available automation tools. With no discernible system to prevent automated logins, the attackers can hack into Twitch accounts at speed. Once logged in, the attackers then change the password to gain persistent access to the account. Even if they’re caught, some users are claiming a turnaround time of four weeks for Twitch support to get their accounts back.

On the accounts with a stored stored payment card — or an associated Amazon Prime membership — the attackers follow streaming channels run by the attackers or pay for for a small fee, which Twitch takes a cut. Twitch also has its own virtual currency — bits — to help streamers solicit donations, which can be abused by the attackers to funnel funds into their coffers.

When the attacker’s streaming account hits the payout limit, the attacker cashes out.

The researchers said the attackers stream prerecorded gameplay footage on their own Twitch channels, often using Russian words and names.

“You’ll see these Russian accounts that will stream what appears to be old video game footage — you’ll never see a face or hear anybody talking but you’ll get tons of people subscribing and following in the channel,” said Xmas. “You’ll get people donating bits when nothing is going on in there — even when the channel isn’t streaming,” he said.

This activity helps to cloak the attackers’ account takeover and pay-to-follow activity, said Xmas, but the attackers would keep the subscriber counts low enough to garner payouts from Twitch but not to draw attention.

“If it’s something easy enough for [Jakubowski] to stumble across, it should be easy for Twitch to handle,” said Xmas. “But Twitch is staying silent and users are constantly being defrauded.”

Two-factor all the things

Twitch, unlike other sites and services with a credential stuffing problem, already lets its 15 million daily users set up two-factor authentication on their accounts, putting much of the onus to stay secure on the users themselves.

Twitch partners, like Jakubowski, and affiliates are required to set up two-factor on their accounts.

But the researchers say Twitch should do more to incentivize ordinary users — the primary target for account hijackers and fraudsters — to secure their accounts.

“I think [Twitch] doesn’t want that extra step between a valid user trying to pay for something and adding friction to that process,” said Jakubowski.

“The hackers have no idea how valuable an account is until they log in. They’re just going to try everyone — and take a shotgun approach.”
Matthew Jakubowski, security researcher and Twitch partner

“Two-factor is important — everyone knows it’s important but users still aren’t using it because it’s inconvenient,” said Xmas. “That’s the bottom line: Twitch doesn’t want to inconvenience people because that loses Twitch money,” he said.

Recognizing there was still a lack of awareness around password security and with no help from Twitch, Jakubowski and Xmas took matters into their own hands. The pair teamed up to write a comprehensive Twitch user security guide to explain why seemingly unremarkable accounts are a target for hackers, and hosted a Reddit “ask me anything” to let users to ask questions and get instant feedback.

Even during Jakubowski’s streaming sessions, he doesn’t waste a chance to warn his viewers about the security problem — often fielding other security-related questions from his fans.

“Every ten minutes or so, I’ll remind people watching to set-up two factor,” he said.

“The hackers have no idea how valuable an account is until they log in,” said Jakubowski. “They’re just going to try everyone — and take a shotgun approach,” he said.

Xmas said users “don’t realize” how vulnerable they are. “They don’t understand why their account — which they don’t even use to stream — is desirable to hackers,” he said. “If you have a payment card associated with your account, that’s what they want.”

Carrot and the stick

Jakubowski said that convincing the users is the big challenge.

Twitch could encourage users with free perks — like badges or emotes — costing the company nothing, the researchers said. Twitch lets users collect badges to flair their accounts. World of Warcraft maker Blizzard offers perks for setting up two-factor, and Epic Games offers similar incentives to their gamers.

“Rewarding users for implementing two-factor would go a huge way,” said Xmas. “It’s incredible to see how effective that is.”

The two said the company could also integrate third-party leaked credential monitoring services, like Have I Been Pwned, to warn users if their passwords have been leaked or exposed. And, among other fixes, the researchers say removing two-factor by text message would reduce SIM swapping attacks. Xmas, who serves as director of field engineering at anti-bot startup Kasada — which TechCrunch profiled earlier this year — said Twitch could invest in systems that detect bot activity to prevent automated logins.

Twitch, when reached prior to publication, did not comment.

Jakubowski said until Twitch acts, streamers can do their part by encouraging their viewers to switch on the security feature. “Streamers are influencers — more users are likely to switch on two-factor if they hear it from a streamer,” he said.

“Getting more streamers to get on board with security will hopefully go a much longer way,” he said.

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Should You Use Firefox Forks?

Firefox-Featured.jpgMozilla Firefox is an open source browser which allows anyone to modify the code to create a “fork” browser. Some of the popular forks include Waterfox, Comodo Ice Dragon, Pale Moon, Basilisk, Swiftfox, and TenFourFox. These forks, however, do not carry the seal of approval of Mozilla. If your only purpose is ordinary web browsing, there is nothing wrong with these alternative browsers. After all, Chromium forks are extremely common, and Google Chrome itself is one among many “forks” based on the original Chromium Project. However, with Mozilla it is different. That is why you have to ask the following questions before proceeding with another… Read more

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How to Create a Simple Invoice Using Excel

Whether you’re a freelancer doing work for multiple companies, or a business that plans on extending a credit line to its customers, you’re going to need an invoice. Creating a custom invoice in Excel isn’t difficult. You’ll be ready to submit your invoice and receive payments in no time.

Using an Invoice Template

Creating a simple invoice in Excel is relatively straightforward. Create a few tables, set a few rules, add a bit of information, and you’re good to go. Alternatively, there are many websites out there that provide free invoice templates created by actual accountants. You can use these instead, or even download one to use as inspiration for when you’re making your own.

Excel also provides its own library of invoice templates you can use. To access these templates, open Excel and click the “File” tab.

File tab

Here, select “New” and type “Invoice” into the search bar.

New - Invoice search

Press Enter and a collection of invoice templates will appear.

Invoice templates

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‘Final Fantasy XII’ arrives on Switch and Xbox One

dims?crop=2048%2C1151%2C0%2C125&quality=Final Fantasy fans have a new option with which to get their fix on the go as Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age has arrived on Nintendo Switch as well as Xbox One. The remastered edition of the expanded JRPG debuted on PS4 in 2017 and it came to Stea…

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How to Charge Your Gadgets as Fast as Possible


It’s hard to think of a scenario where you’re not going to want to get your gadgets charged up as quickly as possible—whether you’re heading to the office or off on an evening out, you want that battery level as high as possible when you leave. But getting your gadgets charged up is about more than how long they’re…

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